Tennis

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society and at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racket, including wheelchair users. The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century as lawn tennis.[1] It had close connections both to various field (lawn) games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older racket sport today called real tennis. During most of the 19th century, in fact, the term tennis referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis.

The rules of modern tennis have changed little since the 1890s. Two exceptions are that from 1908 to 1961 the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and the adoption of the tiebreak in the 1970s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption of electronic review technology coupled with a point-challenge system, which allows a player to contest the line call of a point, a system known as Hawk-Eye.

Tennis is played by millions of recreational players and is also a popular worldwide spectator sport. The four Grand Slam tournaments (also referred to as the Majors) are especially popular: the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open also played on hard courts.

Tennis
Centre Court
A tennis match at Wimbledon's Centre Court (2007)
Highest governing bodyInternational Tennis Federation
First playedBetween 1859 and 1865, Birmingham, England
Characteristics
ContactNo
Team membersSingles or doubles
Mixed genderYes, separate tours & mixed doubles
TypeOutdoor or indoor
EquipmentTennis ball, tennis racket
Venuetennis court
GlossaryGlossary of tennis
Presence
Country or regionWorldwide
Olympicpart of Summer Olympic programme from 1896 to 1924
Demonstration sport in the 1968 and 1984 Summer Olympics
Part of Summer Olympic programme since 1988
Paralympicpart of Summer Paralympic programme since 1992

History

Predecessors

Jeu de paume002
Jeu de paume in the 17th century

Historians believe that the game's ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand.[2] Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume ("game of the palm"), which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis outdoors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century".[3] In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe.[3] In June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning.[4] Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis X is history's first tennis player known by name.[4] Another of the early enthusiasts of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.[5]

It wasn't until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis", from the French term tenez, which can be translated as "hold!", "receive!" or "take!", an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent.[6] It was popular in England and France, although the game was only played indoors where the ball could be hit off the wall. Henry VIII of England was a big fan of this game, which is now known as real tennis.[7] During the 18th and early 19th centuries, as real tennis declined, new racket sports emerged in England.[8]

Further, the patenting of the first lawn mower in 1830, in Britain, is strongly believed to have been the catalyst, worldwide, for the preparation of modern-style grass courts, sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches, greens, etc. This in turn led to the codification of modern rules for many sports, including lawn tennis, most football codes, lawn bowls and others.[9]

Origins of the modern game

Tennis birthplace Edgbaston
Augurio Perera's house in Edgbaston, Birmingham, where he and Harry Gem first played the modern game of lawn tennis

Between 1859 and 1865 Harry Gem, a solicitor and his friend Augurio Perera developed a game that combined elements of racquets and the Basque ball game pelota, which they played on Perera's croquet lawn in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.[10][11] In 1872, along with two local doctors, they founded the world's first tennis club on Avenue Road, Leamington Spa.[12] This is where "lawn tennis" is used as a name of activity by a club for the first time. After Leamington, the second club to take up the game of lawn tennis appears to have been the Edgbaston Archery and Croquet Society, also in Birmingham.

In Tennis: A Cultural History, Heiner Gillmeister reveals that on December 8, 1874, British army officer Walter Clopton Wingfield wrote to Harry Gem, commenting that he (Wingfield) had been experimenting with his version of lawn tennis “for a year and a half”.[13] In December 1873, Wingfield designed and patented a game which he called sphairistikè (Greek: σφαιριστική, meaning "ball-playing"), and was soon known simply as "sticky" – for the amusement of guests at a garden party on his friend's estate of Nantclwyd Hall, in Llanelidan, Wales.[14] According to R. D. C. Evans, turfgrass agronomist, "Sports historians all agree that [Wingfield] deserves much of the credit for the development of modern tennis."[8][15] According to Honor Godfrey, museum curator at Wimbledon, Wingfield "popularized this game enormously. He produced a boxed set which included a net, poles, rackets, balls for playing the game – and most importantly you had his rules. He was absolutely terrific at marketing and he sent his game all over the world. He had very good connections with the clergy, the law profession, and the aristocracy and he sent thousands of sets out in the first year or so, in 1874."[16] The world's oldest annual tennis tournament took place at Leamington Lawn Tennis Club in Birmingham in 1874.[17] This was three years before the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club would hold its first championships at Wimbledon, in 1877. The first Championships culminated a significant debate on how to standardize the rules.[16]

Lawn-tennis-Prang-1887.jpeg
Lawn tennis in the U.S., 1887

In the U.S. in 1874 Mary Ewing Outerbridge, a young socialite, returned from Bermuda with a sphairistikè set. She became fascinated by the game of tennis after watching British army officers play.[18] She laid out a tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket Club at Camp Washington, Tompkinsville, Staten Island, New York. The first American National championship was played there in September 1880. An Englishman named O.E. Woodhouse won the singles title, and a silver cup worth $100, by defeating Canadian I. F. Hellmuth.[19] There was also a doubles match which was won by a local pair. There were different rules at each club. The ball in Boston was larger than the one normally used in New York.

On 21 May 1881, the oldest nationwide tennis organization in the world[20] was formed, the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) in order to standardize the rules and organize competitions.[21] The U.S. National Men's Singles Championship, now the US Open, was first held in 1881 at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode Island.[22] The U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887 in Philadelphia.[23]

BASA-3K-7-422-11-1896 Summer Olympics
Tennis doubles final at 1896 Olympic Games

Tennis also became popular in France, where the French Championships dates to 1891 although until 1925 it was open only to tennis players who were members of French clubs.[24] Thus, Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained the most prestigious events in tennis.[25][26] Together these four events are called the Majors or Slams (a term borrowed from bridge rather than baseball).[27]

South End Lawn Tennis Club, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, ca. 1900 - cropped
Lawn tennis in Canada, ca. 1900

In 1913, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF), now the International Tennis Federation (ITF), was founded and established three official tournaments as the major championships of the day. The World Grass Court Championships were awarded to Great Britain. The World Hard Court Championships were awarded to France; the term "hard court" was used for clay courts at the time. Some tournaments were held in Belgium instead. And the World Covered Court Championships for indoor courts was awarded annually; Sweden, France, Great Britain, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain each hosted the tournament.[28] At a meeting held on 16 March 1923 in Paris, the title 'World Championship' was dropped and a new category of Official Championship was created for events in Great Britain, France, the United States, and Australia – today's Grand Slam events.[29][30] The impact on the four recipient nations to replace the ‘world championships’ with ‘official championships’ was simple in a general sense: each became a major nation of the federation with enhanced voting power and each now operated a major event.[31]

The comprehensive rules promulgated in 1924 by the ILTF, have remained largely stable in the ensuing eighty years, the one major change being the addition of the tiebreak system designed by Jimmy Van Alen.[32] That same year, tennis withdrew from the Olympics after the 1924 Games but returned 60 years later as a 21-and-under demonstration event in 1984. This reinstatement was credited by the efforts by the then ITF President Philippe Chatrier, ITF General Secretary David Gray and ITF Vice President Pablo Llorens, and support from IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. The success of the event was overwhelming and the IOC decided to reintroduce tennis as a full medal sport at Seoul in 1988.[33][34]

Newport Casino
International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino

The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men's national teams, dates to 1900.[35] The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ITF.[36]

In 1926, promoter C. C. Pyle established the first professional tennis tour with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences.[26][37] The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen.[26][38] Once a player turned pro he or she was no longer permitted to compete in the major (amateur) tournaments.[26]

In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the Open Era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the Open Era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its middle-class English-speaking image[39] (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).[39][40]

In 1954, Van Alen founded the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a non-profit museum in Newport, Rhode Island.[41] The building contains a large collection of tennis memorabilia as well as a hall of fame honouring prominent members and tennis players from all over the world. Each year, a grass court tournament and an induction ceremony honoring new Hall of Fame members are hosted on its grounds.

Teniszütő
Wooden racket – c. 1920s

Equipment

Part of the appeal of tennis stems from the simplicity of equipment required for play. Beginners need only a racket and balls.

Rackets

The components of a tennis racket include a handle, known as the grip, connected to a neck which joins a roughly elliptical frame that holds a matrix of tightly pulled strings. For the first 100 years of the modern game, rackets were made of wood and of standard size, and strings were of animal gut. Laminated wood construction yielded more strength in rackets used through most of the 20th century until first metal and then composites of carbon graphite, ceramics, and lighter metals such as titanium were introduced. These stronger materials enabled the production of oversized rackets that yielded yet more power. Meanwhile, technology led to the use of synthetic strings that match the feel of gut yet with added durability.

Reket Franje Punčeca
Racket of Franjo Punčec in a wooden frame – late 1930s

Under modern rules of tennis, the rackets must adhere to the following guidelines;[42]

  • The hitting area, composed of the strings, must be flat and generally uniform.
  • The frame of the hitting area may not be more than 29 inches (74 cm) in length and 12.5 inches (32 cm) in width.
  • The entire racket must be of a fixed shape, size, weight, and weight distribution. There may not be any energy source built into the rackets.
  • The rackets must not provide any kind of communication, instruction or advice to the player during the match.

The rules regarding rackets have changed over time, as material and engineering advances have been made. For example, the maximum length of the frame had been 32 inches (81 cm) until 1997, when it was shortened to 29 inches (74 cm).[43]

Many companies manufacture and distribute tennis rackets. Wilson, Head and Babolat are some of the more commonly used brands; however, many more companies exist. The same companies sponsor players to use these rackets in the hopes that the company name will become more well known by the public.

Tennis Racket and Balls
A tennis racket and balls.

Balls

Tennis balls were originally made of cloth strips stitched together with thread and stuffed with feathers.[44] Modern tennis balls are made of hollow vulcanized rubber with a felt coating. Traditionally white, the predominant colour was gradually changed to optic yellow in the latter part of the 20th century to allow for improved visibility. Tennis balls must conform to certain criteria for size, weight, deformation, and bounce to be approved for regulation play. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines the official diameter as 65.41–68.58 mm (2.575–2.700 in). Balls must weigh between 56.0 and 59.4 g (1.98 and 2.10 oz).[45] Tennis balls were traditionally manufactured in the United States and Europe. Although the process of producing the balls has remained virtually unchanged for the past 100 years, the majority of manufacturing now takes place in the Far East. The relocation is due to cheaper labour costs and materials in the region.[46] Tournaments that are played under the Rules of Tennis must use balls that are approved by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and be named on the official ITF list of approved tennis balls. [47]

Miscellaneous

Advanced players improve their performance through a number of accoutrements. Vibration dampeners may be interlaced in the proximal part of the string array for improved feel. Racket handles may be customized with absorbent or rubber-like materials to improve the players' grip. Players often use sweat bands on their wrists to keep their hands dry and head bands or bandanas to keep the sweat out of their eyes as well. Finally, although the game can be played in a variety of shoes, specialized tennis shoes have wide, flat soles for stability and a built-up front structure to avoid excess wear.

Manner of play

Tennis court imperial
The dimensions of a tennis court
Peer Vs Chakvetadze
Two players before a serve

Court

Tennis is played on a rectangular, flat surface. The court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long, and 27 feet (8.2 m) wide for singles matches and 36 ft (11 m) for doubles matches.[48] Additional clear space around the court is required in order for players to reach overrun balls. A net is stretched across the full width of the court, parallel with the baselines, dividing it into two equal ends. It is held up by either a metal cable or cord that can be no more than 0.8 cm (13 in).[49] The net is 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) high at the posts and 3 feet (0.91 m) high in the center.[48] The net posts are 3 feet (0.91 m) outside the doubles court on each side or, for a singles net, 3 feet (0.91 m) outside the singles court on each side.

The modern tennis court owes its design to Major Walter Clopton Wingfield. In 1873, Wingfield patented a court much the same as the current one for his stické tennis (sphairistike). This template was modified in 1875 to the court design that exists today, with markings similar to Wingfield's version, but with the hourglass shape of his court changed to a rectangle.[50]

Tennis is unusual in that it is played on a variety of surfaces.[51] Grass, clay, and hardcourts of concrete or asphalt topped with acrylic are the most common. Occasionally carpet is used for indoor play, with hardwood flooring having been historically used. Artificial turf courts can also be found.

Lines

The lines that delineate the width of the court are called the baseline (farthest back) and the service line (middle of the court). The short mark in the center of each baseline is referred to as either the hash mark or the center mark. The outermost lines that make up the length are called the doubles sidelines. These are the boundaries used when doubles is being played. The lines to the inside of the doubles sidelines are the singles sidelines and are used as boundaries in singles play. The area between a doubles sideline and the nearest singles sideline is called the doubles alley, which is considered playable in doubles play. The line that runs across the center of a player's side of the court is called the service line because the serve must be delivered into the area between the service line and the net on the receiving side. Despite its name, this is not where a player legally stands when making a serve.[52]

The line dividing the service line in two is called the center line or center service line. The boxes this center line creates are called the service boxes; depending on a player's position, he or she will have to hit the ball into one of these when serving.[53] A ball is out only if none of it has hit the line or the area inside the lines upon its first bounce. All lines are required to be between 1 and 2 inches (25 and 51 mm) in width, with the exception of the baseline which can be up to 4 inches (100 mm) wide (although in practice it is often created the same width as the rest).[52]

Play of a single point

The players (or teams) start on opposite sides of the net. One player is designated the server, and the opposing player is the receiver. The choice to be server or receiver in the first game and the choice of ends is decided by a coin toss before the warm-up starts. Service alternates game by game between the two players (or teams). For each point, the server starts behind the baseline, between the center mark and the sideline. The receiver may start anywhere on their side of the net. When the receiver is ready, the server will serve, although the receiver must play to the pace of the server.

In a legal service, the ball travels over the net (without touching it) and into the diagonally opposite service box. If the ball hits the net but lands in the service box, this is a let or net service, which is void, and the server retakes that serve. The player can serve any number of let services in a point and they are always treated as voids and not as faults. A fault is a serve that falls long or wide of the service box, or does not clear the net. There is also a "foot fault", which occurs when a player's foot touches the baseline or an extension of the center mark before the ball is hit. If the second service is also a fault, the server double faults, and the receiver wins the point. However, if the serve is in, it is considered a legal service.

A legal service starts a rally, in which the players alternate hitting the ball across the net. A legal return consists of the player or team hitting the ball before it has bounced twice or hit any fixtures except the net, provided that it still falls in the server's court. A player or team cannot hit the ball twice in a row. The ball must travel past the net into the other players' court. A ball that hits the net during a rally is still considered a legal return as long as it crosses into the opposite side of the court. The first player or team to fail to make a legal return loses the point. The server then moves to the other side of the service line at the start of a new point.[54]

Scoring

Game, set, match

A game consists of a sequence of points played with the same player serving. A game is won by the first player to have won at least four points in total and at least two points more than the opponent. The running score of each game is described in a manner peculiar to tennis: scores from zero to three points are described as "love", "15", "30", and "40", respectively. If at least three points have been scored by each player, making the player's scores equal at 40 apiece, the score is not called out as "40–40", but rather as "deuce". If at least three points have been scored by each side and a player has one more point than his opponent, the score of the game is "advantage" for the player in the lead. During informal games, "advantage" can also be called "ad in" or "van in" when the serving player is ahead, and "ad out" or "van out" when the receiving player is ahead.

Final Score Andy Roddick vs Saulnier
The scoreboard of a match between Andy Roddick and Cyril Saulnier.

The score of a tennis game during play is always read with the serving player's score first. In tournament play, the chair umpire calls the point count (e.g., "15-love") after each point. At the end of a game, the chair umpire also announces the winner of the game and the overall score.

A set consists of a sequence of games played with service alternating between games, ending when the count of games won meets certain criteria. Typically, a player wins a set by winning at least six games and at least two games more than the opponent. If one player has won six games and the opponent five, an additional game is played. If the leading player wins that game, the player wins the set 7–5. If the trailing player wins the game (tying the set 6–6) a tie-break is played. A tie-break, played under a separate set of rules, allows one player to win one more game and thus the set, to give a final set score of 7–6. A "love" set means that the loser of the set won zero games, colloquially termed a 'jam donut' in the USA.[55] In tournament play, the chair umpire announces the winner of the set and the overall score. The final score in sets is always read with the winning player's score first, e.g. "6–2, 4–6, 6–0, 7–5".

A match consists of a sequence of sets. The outcome is determined through a best of three or five sets system. On the professional circuit, men play best-of-five-set matches at all four Grand Slam tournaments, Davis Cup, and the final of the Olympic Games and best-of-three-set matches at all other tournaments, while women play best-of-three-set matches at all tournaments. The first player to win two sets in a best-of-three, or three sets in a best-of-five, wins the match.[56] Only in the final sets of matches at the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, the Olympic Games, Davis Cup (until 2015), and Fed Cup are tie-breaks not played. In these cases, sets are played indefinitely until one player has a two-game lead, leading to some remarkably long matches.

In tournament play, the chair umpire announces the end of the match with the well-known phrase "Game, set, match" followed by the winning person's or team's name.

Special point terms

A game point occurs in tennis whenever the player who is in the lead in the game needs only one more point to win the game. The terminology is extended to sets (set point), matches (match point), and even championships (championship point). For example, if the player who is serving has a score of 40-love, the player has a triple game point (triple set point, etc.) as the player has three consecutive chances to win the game. Game points, set points, and match points are not part of official scoring and are not announced by the chair umpire in tournament play.

A break point occurs if the receiver, not the server, has a chance to win the game with the next point. Break points are of particular importance because serving is generally considered advantageous, with servers being expected to win games in which they are serving. A receiver who has one (score of 30–40 or advantage), two (score of 15–40) or three (score of love-40) consecutive chances to win the game has break point, double break point or triple break point, respectively. If the receiver does, in fact, win their break point, the game is awarded to the receiver, and the receiver is said to have converted their break point. If the receiver fails to win their break point it is called a failure to convert. Winning break points, and thus the game, is also referred to as breaking serve, as the receiver has disrupted, or broken the natural advantage of the server. If in the following game the previous server also wins a break point it is referred to as breaking back. Except where tie-breaks apply, at least one break of serve is required to win a set.

Rule variations

  • No ad
From 'No advantage'. Scoring method created by Jimmy Van Alen. The first player or doubles team to win four points wins the game, regardless of whether the player or team is ahead by two points. When the game score reaches three points each, the receiver chooses which side of the court (advantage court or deuce court) the service is to be delivered on the seventh and game-deciding point. Utilized by World Team Tennis professional competition, ATP tours, WTA tours, ITF Pro Doubles and ITF Junior Doubles.[57][58]
  • Pro set
Instead of playing multiple sets, players may play one "pro set". A pro set is first to 8 (or 10) games by a margin of two games, instead of first to 6 games. A 12-point tie-break is usually played when the score is 8–8 (or 10–10). These are often played with no-ad scoring.
  • Match tie-break
This is sometimes played instead of a third set. A match tie-break (also called super tie-break) is played like a regular tie-break, but the winner must win ten points instead of seven. Match tie-breaks are used in the Hopman Cup, Grand Slams (excluding Wimbledon) and the Olympic Games for mixed doubles; on the ATP (since 2006), WTA (since 2007) and ITF (excluding four Grand Slam tournaments and the Davis Cup) tours for doubles and as a player's choice in USTA league play.
  • Fast4
Fast4 is a shortened format that offers a "fast" alternative, with four points, four games and four rules: there are no advantage scores, lets are played, tie-breakers apply at three games all and the first to four games wins the set.

Another, however informal, tennis format is called Canadian doubles. This involves three players, with one person playing a doubles team. The single player gets to utilize the alleys normally reserved only for a doubles team. Conversely, the doubles team does not use the alleys when executing a shot. The scoring is the same as a regular game. This format is not sanctioned by any official body.

"Australian doubles", another informal and unsanctioned form of tennis, is played with similar rules to the Canadian doubles style, only in this version, players rotate court position after each game. As such, each player plays doubles and singles over the course of a match, with the singles player always serving. Scoring styles vary, but one popular method is to assign a value of 2 points to each game, with the server taking both points if he or she holds serve and the doubles team each taking one if they break serve.

Wheelchair tennis can be played by able-bodied players as well as people who require a wheelchair for mobility. An extra bounce is permitted. This rule makes it possible to have mixed wheelchair and able-bodied matches. It is possible for a doubles team to consist of a wheelchair player and an able-bodied player (referred to as "one-up, one-down"), or for a wheelchair player to play against an able-bodied player. In such cases, the extra bounce is permitted for the wheelchair users only.

Officials

Tennis umpire
An umpire informing two players of the rules

In most professional play and some amateur competition, there is an officiating head judge or chair umpire (usually referred to as the umpire), who sits in a raised chair to one side of the court. The umpire has absolute authority to make factual determinations. The umpire may be assisted by line judges, who determine whether the ball has landed within the required part of the court and who also call foot faults. There also may be a net judge who determines whether the ball has touched the net during service. The umpire has the right to overrule a line judge or a net judge if the umpire is sure that a clear mistake has been made.[59]

In some tournaments, line judges who would be calling the serve, were assisted by electronic sensors that beeped to indicate the serve was out. This system was called "Cyclops".[60] Cyclops has since largely been replaced by the Hawk-Eye system.[61][62] In professional tournaments using this system, players are allowed three unsuccessful appeals per set, plus one additional appeal in the tie-break to challenge close line calls by means of an electronic review. The US Open, Miami Masters, US Open Series, and World Team Tennis started using this challenge system in 2006 and the Australian Open and Wimbledon introduced the system in 2007.[63] In clay-court matches, such as at the French Open, a call may be questioned by reference to the mark left by the ball's impact on the court surface.

The referee, who is usually located off the court, is the final authority about tennis rules. When called to the court by a player or team captain, the referee may overrule the umpire's decision if the tennis rules were violated (question of law) but may not change the umpire's decision on a question of fact. If, however, the referee is on the court during play, the referee may overrule the umpire's decision (This would only happen in Davis Cup or Fed Cup matches, not at the World Group level, when a chair umpire from a non-neutral country is in the chair).[59]

Ball boys and girls may be employed to retrieve balls, pass them to the players, and hand players their towels. They have no adjudicative role. In rare events (e.g., if they are hurt or if they have caused a hindrance), the umpire may ask them for a statement of what actually happened. The umpire may consider their statements when making a decision. In some leagues, especially junior leagues, players make their own calls, trusting each other to be honest. This is the case for many school and university level matches. The referee or referee's assistant, however, can be called on court at a player's request, and the referee or assistant may change a player's call. In unofficiated matches, a ball is out only if the player entitled to make the call is sure that the ball is out.

Junior tennis

In tennis, a junior is a player under 18 who is still legally protected by a parent or guardian. Players on the main adult tour who are under 18 must have documents signed by a parent or guardian. These players, however, are still eligible to play in junior tournaments.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) conducts a junior tour that allows juniors to establish a world ranking and an Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranking. Most juniors who enter the international circuit do so by progressing through ITF, Satellite, Future, and Challenger tournaments before entering the main circuit. The latter three circuits also have adults competing in them. Some juniors, however, such as Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Frenchman Gaël Monfils, have catapulted directly from the junior tour to the ATP tour by dominating the junior scene or by taking advantage of opportunities given to them to participate in professional tournaments.

In 2004, the ITF implemented a new rankings scheme to encourage greater participation in doubles, by combining two rankings (singles and doubles) into one combined tally.[64] Junior tournaments do not offer prize money except for the Grand Slam tournaments, which are the most prestigious junior events. Juniors may earn income from tennis by participating in the Future, Satellite, or Challenger tours. Tournaments are broken up into different tiers offering different amounts of ranking points, culminating with Grade A.

Leading juniors are allowed to participate for their nation in the Junior Fed Cup and Davis Cup competitions. To succeed in tennis often means having to begin playing at a young age. To facilitate and nurture a junior's growth in tennis, almost all tennis playing nations have developed a junior development system. Juniors develop their play through a range of tournaments on all surfaces, accommodating all different standards of play. Talented juniors may also receive sponsorships from governing bodies or private institutions.

Match play

Tennis shake hands after match
Convention dictates that two players shake hands at the end of a match

Continuity

A tennis match is intended to be continuous.[65] Because stamina is a relevant factor, arbitrary delays are not permitted. In most cases, service is required to occur no more than 20 seconds after the end of the previous point.[65] This is increased to 90 seconds when the players change ends (after every odd-numbered game), and a 2-minute break is permitted between sets.[65] Other than this, breaks are permitted only when forced by events beyond the players' control, such as rain, damaged footwear, damaged racket, or the need to retrieve an errant ball. Should a player be determined to be stalling repeatedly, the chair umpire may initially give a warning followed by subsequent penalties of "point", "game", and default of the match for the player who is consistently taking longer than the allowed time limit.[66]

In the event of a rain delay, darkness or other external conditions halting play, the match is resumed at a later time, with the same score as at the time of the delay, and the players at the same end of the court when rain halted play, or at the same position (north or south) if play is resumed on a different court.

Ball changes

Balls wear out quickly in serious play and, therefore, in ATP and WTA tournaments, they are changed after every nine games with the first change occurring after only seven games, because the first set of balls is also used for the pre-match warm-up.[45] As a courtesy to the receiver, the server will often signal to the receiver before the first serve of the game in which new balls are used as a reminder that they are using new balls. However, in ITF tournaments like Fed Cup, the balls are changed in a 9–11 style. Continuity of the balls' condition is considered part of the game, so if a re-warm-up is required after an extended break in play (usually due to rain), then the re-warm-up is done using a separate set of balls, and use of the match balls is resumed only when play resumes.

On-court coaching

A recent rule change is to allow coaching on court on a limited basis during a match.[67][68][69][70] This has been introduced in women's tennis for WTA Tour events in 2009 and allows the player to request her coach once per set.[71]

Shots

A competent tennis player has eight basic shots in his or her repertoire: the serve, forehand, backhand, volley, half-volley, overhead smash, drop shot, and lob.

Grip

A grip is a way of holding the racket in order to hit shots during a match. The grip affects the angle of the racket face when it hits the ball and influences the pace, spin, and placement of the shot. Players use various grips during play, including the Continental (The "Handshake Grip"), Eastern (Can be either semi-eastern or full eastern. Usually used for backhands.), and Western (semi-western or full western, usually for forehand grips) grips. Most players change grips during a match depending on what shot they are hitting; for example, slice shots and serves call for a Continental grip.[72]

Serve

Paraguay stamp - Martina Navrátilová
Paraguayan stamp depicting a Martina Navratilova service motion.

A serve (or, more formally, a "service") in tennis is a shot to start a point. The serve is initiated by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it (usually near the apex of its trajectory) into the diagonally opposite service box without touching the net. The serve may be hit under- or overhand although underhand serving remains a rarity.[73] If the ball hits the net on the first serve and bounces over into the correct diagonal box then it is called a "let" and the server gets two more additional serves to get it in. There can also be a let if the server serves the ball and the receiver isn't prepared.[74] If the server misses his or her first serve and gets a let on the second serve, then they get one more try to get the serve in the box.

Experienced players strive to master the conventional overhand serve to maximize its power and placement. The server may employ different types of serve including flat serve, topspin serve, slice serve, and kick (American twist) serve. A reverse type of spin serve is hit in a manner that spins the ball opposite the natural spin of the server, the spin direction depending upon right- or left-handedness. If the ball is spinning counterclockwise, it will curve right from the hitter's point of view and curve left if spinning clockwise.[75]

Some servers are content to use the serve simply to initiate the point; however, advanced players often try to hit a winning shot with their serve. A winning serve that is not touched by the opponent is called an "ace".

Forehand

For a right-handed player, the forehand is a stroke that begins on the right side of the body, continues across the body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the left side of the body. There are various grips for executing the forehand, and their popularity has fluctuated over the years. The most important ones are the continental, the eastern, the semi-western, and the western. For a number of years, the small, frail 1920s player Bill Johnston was considered by many to have had the best forehand of all time, a stroke that he hit shoulder-high using a western grip. Few top players used the western grip after the 1920s, but in the latter part of the 20th century, as shot-making techniques and equipment changed radically, the western forehand made a strong comeback and is now used by many modern players. No matter which grip is used, most forehands are generally executed with one hand holding the racket, but there have been fine players with two-handed forehands. In the 1940s and 50s, the Ecuadorian/American player Pancho Segura used a two-handed forehand to achieve a devastating effect against larger, more powerful players. Players such as Monica Seles or France's Fabrice Santoro and Marion Bartoli are also notable players known for their two-handed forehands.[76]

Backhand

Canada 2010 Andy Murray Backhand
Andy Murray hitting a two-handed backhand.

For right-handed players, the backhand is a stroke that begins on the left side of their body, continues across their body as contact is made with the ball, and ends on the right side of their body. It can be executed with either one hand or with both and is generally considered more difficult to master than the forehand. For most of the 20th century, the backhand was performed with one hand, using either an eastern or a continental grip. The first notable players to use two hands were the 1930s Australians Vivian McGrath and John Bromwich, but they were lonely exceptions. The two-handed grip gained popularity in the 1970s as Björn Borg, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, and later Mats Wilander and Marat Safin used it to great effect, and it is now used by a large number of the world's best players, including Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams.[77]

Two hands give the player more control, while one hand can generate a slice shot, applying backspin on the ball to produce a low trajectory bounce. Reach is also limited with the two-handed shot. The player long considered to have had the best backhand of all time, Don Budge, had a powerful one-handed stroke in the 1930s and 1940s that imparted topspin onto the ball. Ken Rosewall, another player noted for his one-handed backhand, used a very accurate slice backhand through the 1950s and 1960s. A small number of players, notably Monica Seles, use two hands on both the backhand and forehand sides.

Other shots

A volley is a shot returned to the opponent in mid-air before the ball bounces, generally performed near the net, and is usually made with a stiff-wristed punching motion to hit the ball into an open area of the opponent's court. The half volley is made by hitting the ball on the rise just after it has bounced, also generally in the vicinity of the net, and played with the racket close to the ground.[78] The swinging volley is hit out of the air as the player approaches the net. It is an offensive shot used to take preparation time away from the opponent, as it returns the ball into the opponent's court much faster than a standard volley.

From a poor defensive position on the baseline, the lob can be used as either an offensive or defensive weapon, hitting the ball high and deep into the opponent's court to either enable the lobber to get into better defensive position or to win the point outright by hitting it over the opponent's head. If the lob is not hit deeply enough into the other court, however, an opponent near the net may then hit an overhead smash, a hard, serve-like shot, to try to end the point.

A difficult shot in tennis is the return of an attempted lob over the backhand side of a player. When the contact point is higher than the reach of a two-handed backhand, most players will try to execute a high slice (under the ball or sideways). Fewer players attempt the backhand sky-hook or smash. Rarely, a player will go for a high topspin backhand, while themselves in the air. A successful execution of any of these alternatives requires balance and timing, with less margin of error than the lower contact point backhands, since this shot is a break in the regular pattern of play.

If an opponent is deep in his court, a player may suddenly employ an unexpected drop shot, by softly tapping the ball just over the net so that the opponent is unable to run in fast enough to retrieve it. Advanced players will often apply back spin to a drop shot, causing the ball to "skid" upon landing and bounce sideways, with less forward momentum toward their opponent, or even backwards towards the net, thus making it even more difficult to return.

Injuries

Muscle strain is one of the most common injuries in tennis.[79] When an isolated large-energy appears during the muscle contraction and at the same time body weight apply huge amount of pressure to the lengthened muscle, muscle strain can occur.[80] Inflammation and bleeding are triggered when muscle strain occurs, which can result in redness, pain and swelling.[80] Overuse is also common in tennis players of all levels. Muscle, cartilage, nerves, bursae, ligaments and tendons may be damaged from overuse. The repetitive use of a particular muscle without time for repair and recovery is the most common cause of injury.[80]

Tournaments

Tournaments are often organized by gender and number of players. Common tournament configurations include men's singles, women's singles, and doubles, where two players play on each side of the net. Tournaments may be organized for specific age groups, with upper age limits for youth and lower age limits for senior players. Example of this include the Orange Bowl and Les Petits As junior tournaments. There are also tournaments for players with disabilities, such as wheelchair tennis and deaf tennis.[81] In the four Grand Slam tournaments, the singles draws are limited to 128 players for each gender.

Most large tournaments seed players, but players may also be matched by their skill level. According to how well a person does in sanctioned play, a player is given a rating that is adjusted periodically to maintain competitive matches. For example, the United States Tennis Association administers the National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP), which rates players between 1.0 and 7.0 in 1/2 point increments. Average club players under this system would rate 3.0–4.5 while world class players would be 7.0 on this scale.

Grand Slam tournaments

The four Grand Slam tournaments are considered to be the most prestigious tennis events in the world. They are held annually and comprise, in chronological order, the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. Apart from the Olympic Games, Davis Cup, Fed Cup, and Hopman Cup, they are the only tournaments regulated by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).[82] The ITF's national associations, Tennis Australia (Australian Open), the Fédération Française de Tennis (French Open), the Lawn Tennis Association (Wimbledon) and the United States Tennis Association (US Open) are delegated the responsibility to organize these events.[82]

Aside from the historical significance of these events, they also carry larger prize funds than any other tour event and are worth double the number of ranking points to the champion than in the next echelon of tournaments, the Masters 1000 (men) and Premier events (women).[83][84] Another distinguishing feature is the number of players in the singles draw. There are 128, more than any other professional tennis tournament. This draw is composed of 32 seeded players, other players ranked in the world's top 100, qualifiers, and players who receive invitations through wild cards. Grand Slam men's tournaments have best-of-five set matches while the women play best-of-three. Grand Slam tournaments are among the small number of events that last two weeks, the others being the Indian Wells Masters and the Miami Masters.

Currently, the Grand Slam tournaments are the only tour events that have mixed doubles contests. Grand Slam tournaments are held in conjunction with wheelchair tennis tournaments and junior tennis competitions. These tournaments also contain their own idiosyncrasies. For example, players at Wimbledon are required to wear predominantly white. Andre Agassi chose to skip Wimbledon from 1988 through 1990 citing the event's traditionalism, particularly its "predominantly white" dress code.[85] Wimbledon has its own particular methods for disseminating tickets, often leading tennis fans to follow complex procedures to obtain tickets.[86]

Grand Slam Tournaments
Date Tournament Location Surface Prize Money First Held
January–February Australian Open Melbourne Hard (Plexicushion) A$55,000,000 (2018) 1905
May–June French Open Paris Clay 39,197,000 (2018) 1891*
June–July Wimbledon London Grass £31,600,000 (2017) 1877
August–September US Open New York City Hard (DecoTurf) US$50,400,000 (2017) 1881

* The international tournament began in 1925

Men's tournament structure

Masters 1000

The ATP World Tour Masters 1000 is a group of nine tournaments that form the second-highest echelon in men's tennis. Each event is held annually, and a win at one of these events is worth 1000 ranking points. When the ATP, led by Hamilton Jordan, began running the men's tour in 1990, the directors designated the top nine tournaments, outside of the Grand Slam events, as "Super 9" events.[87] In 2000 this became the Tennis Masters Series and in 2004 the ATP Masters Series. In November at the end of the tennis year, the world's top eight players compete in the ATP World Tour Finals, a tournament with a rotating locale. It is currently held in London, England.[88]

In August 2007 the ATP announced major changes to the tour that were introduced in 2009. The Masters Series was renamed to the "Masters 1000", the addition of the number 1000 referring to the number of ranking points earned by the winner of each tournament. Contrary to earlier plans, the number of tournaments was not reduced from nine to eight and the Monte Carlo Masters remains part of the series although, unlike the other events, it does not have a mandatory player commitment. The Hamburg Masters has been downgraded to a 500-point event. The Madrid Masters moved to May and onto clay courts, and a new tournament in Shanghai took over Madrid's former indoor October slot. As of 2011 six of the nine "1000" level tournaments are combined ATP and WTA events.[89]

250 and 500 Series


The third and fourth tier of men's tennis tournaments are formed by the ATP World Tour 500 series, consisting of 11 tournaments, and the ATP World Tour 250 series with 40 tournaments.[90] Like the ATP World Tour Masters 1000, these events offer various amounts of prize money and the numbers refer to the amount of ranking points earned by the winner of a tournament.[83] The Dubai Tennis Championships offer the largest financial incentive to players, with total prize money of US$2,313,975 (2012).[91] These series have various draws of 28, 32, 48 and 56 for singles and 16 and 24 for doubles. It is mandatory for leading players to enter at least four 500 events, including at least one after the US Open.

Challenger Tour and Futures tournaments

The Challenger Tour for men is the lowest level of tournament administered by the ATP. It is composed of about 150 events and, as a result, features a more diverse range of countries hosting events.[92] The majority of players use the Challenger Series at the beginning of their career to work their way up the rankings. Andre Agassi, between winning Grand Slam tournaments, plummeted to World No. 141 and used Challenger Series events for match experience and to progress back up the rankings.[93] The Challenger Series offers prize funds of between US$25,000 and US$150,000.

Below the Challenger Tour are the Futures tournaments, events on the ITF Men's Circuit. These tournaments also contribute towards a player's ATP rankings points. Futures Tournaments offer prize funds of between US$10,000 and US$15,000.[94] Approximately 530 Futures Tournaments are played each year.

Women's tournament structure

Premier events

Premier events for women form the most prestigious level of events on the Women's Tennis Association Tour after the Grand Slam tournaments. These events offer the largest rewards in terms of points and prize money. Within the Premier category are Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, and Premier tournaments. The Premier events were introduced in 2009 replacing the previous Tier I and II tournament categories. Currently four tournaments are Premier Mandatory, five tournaments are Premier 5, and twelve tournaments are Premier. The first tiering system in women's tennis was introduced in 1988. At the time of its creation, only two tournaments, the Lipton International Players Championships in Florida and the German Open in Berlin, comprised the Tier I category.

International events

International tournaments are the second main tier of the WTA tour and consist of 31 tournaments, with a prize money for every event at U.S.$220,000, except for the year-ending Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions in Bali, which has prize money of U.S.$600,000.

Players

Professional players

Professional tennis players enjoy the same relative perks as most top sports personalities: clothing, equipment and endorsements. Like players of other individual sports such as golf, they are not salaried, but must play and finish highly in tournaments to obtain money.

In recent years, some controversy has surrounded the involuntary or deliberate noise caused by players' grunting.

Grand Slam tournament winners

The following players have won at least five singles titles at Grand Slam tournaments:

Margaret Court backhand 1970
Margaret Court (b. 1942).
Roger Federer (26 June 2009, Wimbledon) 2 new
Roger Federer (b. 1981).

Greatest male players

A frequent topic of discussion among tennis fans and commentators is who was the greatest male singles player of all time. By a large margin, an Associated Press poll in 1950 named Bill Tilden as the greatest player of the first half of the 20th century.[95] From 1920 to 1930, Tilden won singles titles at Wimbledon three times and the U.S. Championships seven times. In 1938, however, Donald Budge became the first person to win all four major singles titles during the same calendar year, the Grand Slam, and won six consecutive major titles in 1937 and 1938. Tilden called Budge "the finest player 365 days a year that ever lived."[96] In his 1979 autobiography, Jack Kramer said that, based on consistent play, Budge was the greatest player ever.[97] Some observers, however, also felt that Kramer deserved consideration for the title. Kramer was among the few who dominated amateur and professional tennis during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Tony Trabert has said that of the players he saw before the start of the open era, Kramer was the best male champion.[98]

Bill Tilden in color
Bill Tilden

By the 1960s, Budge and others had added Pancho Gonzales and Lew Hoad to the list of contenders. Budge reportedly believed that Gonzales was the greatest player ever.[99] Gonzales said about Hoad, "When Lew's game was at its peak nobody could touch him. ... I think his game was the best game ever. Better than mine. He was capable of making more shots than anybody. His two volleys were great. His overhead was enormous. He had the most natural tennis mind with the most natural tennis physique."[100]

Before and during the open era, Rod Laver remains the only male player in history to have won the calendar year Grand Slam twice in 1962 and 1969 [101] and also the calendar year Professional Grand Slam in 1967.[102] More recently Björn Borg and Pete Sampras were regarded by many of their contemporaries as among the greatest ever. Andre Agassi, the first of two male players in history to have achieved a Career Golden Slam in singles tennis (followed by Rafael Nadal), has been called the best service returner in the history of the game.[103][104][105][106] He is the first man to win grand slams on all modern surfaces (previous holders of all grand slam tournaments played in an era of grass and clay only), and is regarded by a number of critics and fellow players to be among the greatest players of all time.[103][107][108] However it must be noted that both Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall also won major Pro Slam tournaments on all three surfaces (grass, clay, wood) Rosewall in 1963 and Laver in 1967.[109]

More recently, Roger Federer is considered by many observers to have the most "complete" game in modern tennis. He has won 20 grand slam titles and 6 World Tour Finals, the most for any male player. Many experts of tennis, former tennis players and his own tennis peers believe Federer is the greatest player in the history of the game.[110][111][112][113][114][115] Federer's biggest rival Rafael Nadal is regarded as the greatest competitor in tennis history by some former players and is regarded to have the potential to be the greatest of all time.[116][117] Nadal is regarded as the greatest clay court player of all time.[118]

Greatest female players

As with the men there are frequent discussions about who is the greatest female singles player of all time with Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams being the three players most often nominated.

In March 2012 the TennisChannel published a combined list of the 100 greatest men and women tennis players of all time.[119] It ranked Steffi Graf as the greatest female player (in 3rd place overall), followed by Martina Navratilova (4th place) and Margaret Court (8th place). The rankings were determined by an international panel.

Serena Williams July 2008
Serena Wiiliams July 2008

Sportswriter John Wertheim of Sports Illustrated stated in an article in July 2010 that Serena Williams is the greatest female tennis player ever with the argument that "Head-to-head, on a neutral surface (i.e. hard courts), everyone at their best, I can't help feeling that she crushes the other legends.".[120] In a reaction to this article Yahoo sports blog Busted Racket published a list of the top-10 women's tennis players of all time placing Martina Navratilova in first spot.[121] This top-10 list was similar to the one published in June 2008 by the Bleacher Report who also ranked Martina Navratilova as the top female player of all time.[122]

Steffi Graf is considered by some to be the greatest female player. Billie Jean King said in 1999, "Steffi is definitely the greatest women's tennis player of all time."[123] Martina Navratilova has included Graf on her list of great players.[123] In December 1999, Graf was named the greatest female tennis player of the 20th century by a panel of experts assembled by the Associated Press.[124] Tennis writer Steve Flink, in his book The Greatest Tennis Matches of the Twentieth Century, named her as the best female player of the 20th century, directly followed by Martina Navratilova.[125]

Tennis magazine selected Martina Navratilova as the greatest female tennis player for the years 1965 through 2005.[126][127] Tennis historian and journalist Bud Collins has called Navratilova "arguably, the greatest player of all time."[128] Billie Jean King said about Navratilova in 2006, "She's the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived."[129]

In popular culture

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Further reading

  • Barrett, John Wimbledon: The Official History of the Championships (HarperCollins, 2001) ISBN 978-0-00-711707-9
  • Collins, Bud History of Tennis — An Authoritative Encyclopedia and Record Book (New Chapter Press, 2010) ISBN 978-0-942257-70-0
  • Danzig, Allison and Peter Schwed (ed.) The Fireside Book of Tennis (Simon & Schuster, 1972) ISBN 978-0-671-21128-8
  • Doherty, Reginald Frank R.F. and H.L. Doherty — On Lawn Tennis (Kessinger Publishing, 2010) ISBN 978-1-167-08589-5
  • Dwight, Eleanor Tie Breaker — Jimmy Van Alen and Tennis in the 20th century (Scala Books, 2010) ISBN 978-1-905377-40-4
  • Gillmeister, Heiner Tennis: A Cultural History (Continuum, 1998) ISBN 978-0-7185-0195-2
  • Grimsley, Will Tennis — Its History, People and Events (Prentice-Hall, 1971) ISBN 0-13-903377-7
  • King, Billie Jean and Starr, Cynthia We Have Come a Long Way (McGraw-Hill, 1998) ISBN 0-07-034625-9
  • Whitman, Malcolm D. Tennis — Origins and Mysteries (Dover Publications, 2004) ISBN 0-486-43357-9

External links

International organizations
Team competitions
Other
2019 ATP Tour

The 2019 ATP Tour is the global elite men's professional tennis circuit organised by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) for the 2019 tennis season. The 2019 ATP Tour calendar comprises the Grand Slam tournaments (supervised by the International Tennis Federation (ITF)), the ATP Tour Masters 1000, the ATP Tour 500 series, the ATP Tour 250 series, the Davis Cup (organised by the ITF), and the ATP Finals. Also included in the 2019 calendar are the Hopman Cup and the Next Gen ATP Finals which do not distribute ranking points. For the Masters series events the ATP introduced a shot clock. Players have a minute to come on court, 5 minutes to warmup, and then a minute to commence play, as well as 25 seconds between points.

Arthur Ashe

Arthur Robert Ashe Jr. (July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993) was an American professional tennis player who won three Grand Slam titles.

Ashe was the first black player selected to the United States Davis Cup team and the only black man ever to win the singles title at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open. He retired in 1980. He was ranked World No. 1 by Harry Hopman in 1968 and by Lance Tingay of The Daily Telegraph and World Tennis Magazine in 1975. In the ATP computer rankings, he peaked at No. 2 in May 1976.In the early 1980s, Ashe is believed to have contracted HIV from a blood transfusion he received during heart bypass surgery. Ashe publicly announced his illness in April 1992 and began working to educate others about HIV and AIDS. He founded the Arthur Ashe Foundation for the Defeat of AIDS and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health before his death from AIDS-related pneumonia at age 49 on February 6, 1993.

On June 20, 1993, Ashe was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by the United States President Bill Clinton.

Australian Open

The Australian Open is a tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. It features men's and women's singles; men's, women's, and mixed doubles; junior's championships; and wheelchair, legends, and exhibition events. Prior to 1988 it was played on grass courts, but since then two types of hardcourt surfaces have been used at Melbourne Park – green coloured Rebound Ace up to 2007 and, afterwards, blue Plexicushion.First held in 1905 as the Australasian championships, the Australian Open has grown to become the largest annual sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere. Nicknamed "the happy slam" and often referred to as the "Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific" the tournament is the highest attended Grand Slam event, with more than 780,000 people attending the 2019 edition. It was also the first Grand Slam tournament to feature indoor play during wet weather or extreme heat with its eventually three primary courts, the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Arena and the refurbished Margaret Court Arena equipped with retractable roofs.

Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943) is an American former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles: 12 in singles, 16 in women's doubles, and 11 in mixed doubles. She won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships. She often represented the United States in the Federation Cup and the Wightman Cup. She was a member of the victorious United States team in seven Federation Cups and nine Wightman Cups. For three years, she was the United States' captain in the Federation Cup.

King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the "Battle of the Sexes" tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. She was also the founder of the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation. She was also instrumental in persuading cigarette brand Virginia Slims to sponsor women's tennis in the 1970s and went on to serve on the board of their parent company Philip Morris in the 2000s.

Regarded by many in the sport as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, King was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987. The Fed Cup Award of Excellence was bestowed on her in 2010. In 1972, she was the joint winner, with John Wooden, of the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award and was one of the Time Persons of the Year in 1975. She has also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year lifetime achievement award. She was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1990, and in 2006, the USTA National Tennis Center in New York City was renamed the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. In 2018, she won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award.

French Open

The French Open (French: Championnats Internationaux de France de Tennis), also called Roland-Garros (French: [ʁɔlɑ̃ ɡaʁos]), is a major tennis tournament held over two weeks between late May and early June at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris, France. The venue is named after the French aviator Roland Garros. It is the premier clay court tennis championship event in the world and the second of four annual Grand Slam tournaments, the other three being the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. The French Open is currently the only Grand Slam event held on clay, and it is the zenith of the spring clay court season. Because of the seven rounds needed for a championship, the slow-playing surface and the best-of-five-set men's singles matches (without a tiebreak in the final set), the event is widely considered to be the most physically demanding tennis tournament in the world.

Grand Slam (tennis)

The Grand Slam tournaments, also called majors, are the four most important annual tennis events. They offer the most ranking points, prize money, public and media attention, the greatest strength and size of field, and greater number of "best of" sets for men. The Grand Slam itinerary consists of the Australian Open in mid January, the French Open around late May through early June, Wimbledon in June-July, and the US Open in August-September. Each tournament is played over a period of a fortnight. The Australian and United States tournaments are played on hard courts, the French on clay, and Wimbledon on grass. Wimbledon is the oldest, founded in 1877, followed by the US in 1881, the French in 1891, and the Australian in 1905. However, of these four, only Wimbledon was a major before 1924–25, when all four became designated Grand Slam tournaments. Skipping majors—especially the Australian Open because of the remoteness, the inconvenient dates (around Christmas and New Year's Day) and the low prize money—was not unusual before 1982.Grand Slam tournaments are not operated by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) or the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), but by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). However, the ATP and WTA do award ranking points based on a player's performance at a major.The term Grand Slam, without qualification, and also originally, refers to the achievement of winning all four major championships within a single calendar year within one of the five events: men's and women's singles; men's, women's, and mixed doubles. In doubles, one team may accomplish a Grand Slam playing together or one player may achieve it with different partners.Winning the four majors in consecutive tournaments but not in the same year is known as a Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam, while winning all four majors at any point during the course of a career is known as a Career Grand Slam. Winning the gold medal at the Summer Olympic Games in addition to the four majors in one calendar year is known as a "Golden Grand Slam" or more commonly the "Golden Slam". Also, winning the Year-End Championship (known as ATP Finals for men's singles and doubles disciplines, and WTA Finals for both women's disciplines) in the same period is known as a "Super Slam". Together, all four majors in all three disciplines (singles, doubles, and mixed doubles) are called a "boxed set" of Grand Slam titles. No male or female player has won all twelve events in one calendar year, although a "career boxed set" has been achieved by three female players.

History of tennis

The game that most people call 'tennis' is the direct descendant of what is now known as real tennis or royal tennis (which continues to be played today as a separate sport with more complex rules). Most rules of the game commonly known as tennis derive from it. It is reasonable to see both sports as variations of the same game. The idea that tennis originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century has been largely discredited, but it is correct that in the first few centuries in which it was played, the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand; hence, the name jeu de paume ("game of the palm"). It was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis." It was popular in England and France, and Henry VIII of England was a very big fan of the game, now referred to as real tennis.Many original tennis courts remain, including courts at Oxford, Cambridge, Falkland Palace in Fife where Mary Queen of Scots regularly played, and Hampton Court Palace. Many of the French courts were decommissioned with the terror that accompanied the French Revolution. The Tennis Court Oath (Serment du Jeu de Paume) was a pivotal event during the first days of the French Revolution. The Oath was a pledge signed by 576 of the 577 members from the Third Estate who were locked out of a meeting of the Estates-General on 20 June 1789. Any history of tennis that ignores its origins in the game that was (and is still in certain circles) known as tennis until "lawn tennis" became popular in the late nineteenth century is inaccurate.

The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men's national teams, dates to 1900. The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Tennis Federation, also known as the ITF.

Promoter C. C. Pyle created the first professional tennis tour in 1926, with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments.In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the Open Era (see below), in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).

Lindsay Davenport

Lindsay Ann Davenport Leach (born June 8, 1976) is an American former professional tennis player. She was ranked World No. 1 on eight different occasions, for a total of 98 weeks. Davenport is one of five women who have been the year-end World No. 1 at least four times (1998, 2001, 2004, and 2005) since 1975; the others are Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams. She has achieved the No. 1 ranking in doubles as well.

Noted for her powerful and reliable groundstrokes, Davenport won a total of 55 WTA Tour singles titles, including three Grand Slam titles (one each at the Australian Open, the Wimbledon Championships and the US Open), the gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the WTA Championships. She also won 38 WTA Tour doubles titles, including three Grand Slam titles (the French Open partnering Mary Joe Fernández, Wimbledon partnering Corina Morariu, and the US Open partnering Jana Novotná), and three WTA Championships (partnering Fernández, Novotná, and Natasha Zvereva).

She amassed career-earnings of $22,166,338 dollars; currently eighth in the all-time rankings among female tennis players and formerly first, prior to being surpassed by Serena Williams in January 2009.Davenport was coached for most of her career by Robert Van't Hof. In 2005, TENNIS Magazine ranked her as the 29th-greatest player (male or female) of the preceding 40 years. Davenport was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2014.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Yuryevna Sharapova (Russian: Мари́я Ю́рьевна Шара́пова, IPA: [mɐˈrʲijə ˈjʉrʲjɪvnə ʂɐˈrapəvə] (listen); born April 19, 1987) is a Russian professional tennis player. A United States resident since 1994, Sharapova has competed on the WTA tour since 2001. She has been ranked world No. 1 in singles by the WTA on five separate occasions, for a total of 21 weeks. She is one of ten women, and the only Russian, to hold the career Grand Slam. She is also an Olympic medalist, having won silver in women's singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Sharapova became the world No. 1 for the first time on August 22, 2005, at the age of 18, becoming the first Russian female tennis player to top the singles rankings, and last held the ranking for the fifth time for four weeks from June 11, 2012, to July 8, 2012. Her 36 singles titles and five Grand Slam titles—two at the French Open and one each at the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open—rank third among active players, behind Serena and Venus Williams. She won the year-ending WTA Finals in her debut in 2004. She has also won three doubles titles.

Despite an injury-prone career, Sharapova has achieved a rare level of longevity in the women's game. She won at least one singles title a year from 2003 until 2015, a streak only bested by Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova, and Chris Evert. Several tennis pundits and former players have called Sharapova one of tennis's best competitors, with John McEnroe calling her one of the best the sport has ever seen.Sharapova has been featured in a number of modeling assignments, including a feature in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. She has appeared in many advertisements, including those for Nike, Prince, and Canon, and has been the face of several fashion houses, most notably Cole Haan. Since February 2007, she has been a United Nations Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador, concerned specifically with the Chernobyl Recovery and Development Programme. In June 2011, she was named one of the "30 Legends of Women's Tennis: Past, Present and Future" by Time and in March 2012 was named one of the "100 Greatest of All Time" by Tennis Channel. According to Forbes, she has been named highest-paid female athlete in the world for 11 consecutive years and earned US$285 million (including prize money) since she turned pro in 2001.In March 2016, Sharapova revealed she had failed a drug test at the 2016 Australian Open on January 26, 2016. She had tested positive for meldonium, a substance that had been banned (effective January 1, 2016) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). On June 8, 2016, she was suspended from playing tennis for two years by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). On October 4, 2016, the suspension was reduced to 15 months, starting from the date of the failed test, as the Court of Arbitration for Sports found that she had committed "no significant fault" and that she had taken the substance "based on a doctor's recommendation ... with good faith belief that it was appropriate and compliant with the relevant rules". She returned to the WTA Tour on April 26, 2017 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix.

In 2018, she launched a new programme to mentor women entrepreneurs.

Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka (大坂 なおみ, Ōsaka Naomi, born October 16, 1997) is a professional tennis player who represents Japan. She is the current US Open and Australian Open champion in women's singles, and No. 1 in the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, which she achieved in January 2019.

Born in Japan to a Haitian father and a Japanese mother, Osaka has lived in the United States since she was three years old. She came to prominence at the age of sixteen when she defeated former US Open champion Samantha Stosur in her WTA Tour debut at the 2014 Stanford Classic. Two years later, she reached her first WTA final at the 2016 Pan Pacific Open in Japan to enter the top 50 of the WTA rankings. Osaka made her breakthrough into the upper echelon of women's tennis in 2018, when she won her first WTA title at the Indian Wells Open. In September, she won the US Open, defeating 23-time major champion Serena Williams in the final to become the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament. Her second Grand Slam title came in January 2019, when she won the Australian Open, becoming the first Asian player to be the world's number one.

Osaka is known for her aggressive playing style with a powerful serve. Off the court, she is known for her shy, candid personality and her occasional spontaneous humour.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic (Serbian: Новак Ђоковић / Novak Đoković, pronounced [nôʋaːk dʑôːkoʋitɕ] (listen); born 22 May 1987) is a Serbian professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).Djokovic has won 15 Grand Slam singles titles, five ATP Finals titles, 32 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series titles, 12 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, and has held the No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for over 230 weeks. In majors, he has won a record seven Australian Open titles, four Wimbledon titles, three US Open titles and one French Open title. Following his victory at the 2016 French Open, he became the eighth player in history to achieve the Career Grand Slam and the third man to hold all four major titles at once, the first since Rod Laver in 1969, and the first ever to do so on three different surfaces. He is the first and only male player to have won all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments.Djokovic is the first Serbian player to be ranked No. 1 by the ATP and the first male player representing Serbia to win a Grand Slam singles title. He is a six-time ITF World Champion and a five-time ATP year-end No. 1 ranked player. Djokovic has won numerous awards, including the 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2019 Laureus World Sports Award for Sportsman of the Year and the 2011 BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award. He is also a recipient of the Order of St. Sava, the Order of Karađorđe's Star, and the Order of the Republika Srpska.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal Parera (Catalan: [rəf(ə)ˈɛl nəˈðal pəˈɾeɾə], Spanish: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa]; born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked world No. 2 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).Nadal has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most in history for a male player, as well as a record 33 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, 20 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, and the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles. In addition, Nadal has held the number one ranking for a total of 196 weeks. In majors, Nadal has won a record 11 French Open titles, three US Open titles, two Wimbledon titles, and one Australian Open title. Nadal has also won 57 clay court titles, including his 11 French Open titles, the most of any player in the Open Era. With 81 consecutive match wins on clay, Nadal has the longest single surface win streak of any player in the Open Era.

He was also a member of the winning Spain Davis Cup team in 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2010, he became the seventh male player in history and youngest of five in the Open Era to achieve the Career Grand Slam at age 24. He is the second male player, after Andre Agassi, to complete the singles Career Golden Slam. In 2011, Nadal was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.

Roger Federer

Roger Federer (German pronunciation: [ˈrɔdʒər ˈfeːdərər]; born 8 August 1981) is a Swiss professional tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 7 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He has won 20 Grand Slam singles titles—the most in history for a male player—and has held the world No. 1 spot in the ATP rankings for a record total of 310 weeks, including a record 237 consecutive weeks. After turning professional in 1998, he was continuously ranked in the top ten from October 2002 to November 2016. He re-entered the top ten following his victory at the 2017 Australian Open.

Federer has won a men's record eight Wimbledon titles, six Australian Open titles, a record five consecutive US Open titles, and one French Open title. He is one of eight men to have achieved a career Grand Slam. Federer has reached a record 30 men's singles Grand Slam finals, including 10 in a row from the 2005 Wimbledon Championships to the 2007 US Open. Federer has also won a record six ATP Finals, 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, and a record 21 ATP World Tour 500 titles.

Federer's all-court game and versatile style of play involve exceptional footwork and shot-making. Effective both as a base-liner and a volleyer, his apparent effortlessness and efficient movement on the court have made Federer highly popular among tennis fans. He has received the tour Sportsmanship Award 13 times and been named the ATP Player of the Year and ITF World Champion five times. He has won the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award a record five times, including four consecutive awards from 2005 to 2008 and the most recent one in 2018. He is also the only individual to have won the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the Year award four times.

Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza (Hindustani pronunciation: [ˈsaːnɪaː ˈmɪrzaː]; born 15 November 1986) is an Indian professional tennis player. A former world No. 1 in the doubles discipline, she has won six Grand Slam titles in her career. From 2003 until her retirement from singles in 2013, she was ranked by the WTA as India's No. 1 player in both the categories. Throughout her career, Mirza has established herself as the most successful female Indian tennis player ever and one of the highest-paid and high-profile athletes in the country.In her singles career, Mirza has notable wins over Svetlana Kuznetsova, Vera Zvonareva and Marion Bartoli; as well as former world No. 1s Martina Hingis, Dinara Safina, and Victoria Azarenka. She is the highest-ranked female player ever from India, peaking at world No. 27 in singles in mid-2007; however, a major wrist injury forced her to give up her singles career and focus on the doubles circuit. She has achieved a number of firsts for women's tennis in her native country, including surpassing US$1 million in career earnings (now over $6 million), winning a singles WTA title, and winning six major titles (three each in women's doubles and in mixed doubles), as well as qualifying for (and eventually winning) the WTA Finals in 2014 alongside Cara Black, defending the title the following year partnering with Martina Hingis.In addition, she is the third Indian woman in the Open Era to feature and win a round at a Grand Slam tournament, and the first to reach the second week. She has also won a total of 14 medals (including 6 gold) at three major multi-sport events, namely the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games and the Afro-Asian Games.

Mirza was named one of the "50 Heroes of Asia" by Time in October 2005. In March 2010, The Economic Times named Mirza in the list of the "33 women who made India proud". She was appointed as the UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia during the event held to mark the International Day To End Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013. She was named in Time magazine's 2016 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Serena Williams

Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) ranked her world No. 1 in singles on eight separate occasions between 2002 and 2017. She reached the No. 1 ranking for the first time on July 8, 2002. On her sixth occasion, she held the ranking for 186 consecutive weeks, tying the record set by Steffi Graf. In total, she has been No. 1 for 319 weeks, which ranks third in the "Open Era" among female players behind Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Williams holds the most Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players. Her 39 major titles puts her joint-third on the all-time list and second in the Open Era: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and two in mixed doubles. She is the most recent female player to have held all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously (2002–03 and 2014–15) and the third player to achieve this twice, after Rod Laver and Graf. She is also the most recent player to have won a Grand Slam title on each surface (hard, clay and grass) in one calendar year. She is also, together with her sister Venus, the most recent player to have held all four Grand Slam women's doubles titles simultaneously (2009–10).

Her total of 23 Grand Slam singles titles marks the record for the most Grand Slam tournament wins in the Open Era, and is second on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24). She has won an all-time record of 13 Grand Slam singles titles on hard court. Williams holds the Open Era record for most titles won at the Australian Open (7) and shares the Open Era record for most titles won at the US Open with Chris Evert (6). She also holds the all-time record for the most women's singles matches won at majors with 335 matches.

Williams has won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all with her sister Venus, and the pair are unbeaten in Grand Slam doubles finals. As a team, she and Venus have the third most women's doubles Grand Slam titles, behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva (14 with Gigi Fernández) and the record 20 titles won by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver. Williams is also a five-time winner of the WTA Tour Championships in the singles division. She has also won four Olympic gold medals, one in women's singles and three in women's doubles—an all-time record shared with her sister, Venus. The arrival of the Williams sisters has been credited with ushering in a new era of power and athleticism on the women's professional tennis tour. Earning almost $29 million in prize money and endorsements, Williams was the highest paid female athlete in 2016. She repeated this feat in 2017 when she was the only woman on Forbes' list of the 100 highest paid athletes with $27 million in prize money and endorsements. She has won the 'Laureus Sportswoman of the Year' award four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018), and in December 2015, she was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated magazine.She is currently ranked at No.11 in the world by the WTA.

Table tennis

Table tennis, also known as ping-pong, is a sport in which two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth across a table using small rackets. The game takes place on a hard table divided by a net. Except for the initial serve, the rules are generally as follows: players must allow a ball played toward them to bounce one time on their side of the table, and must return it so that it bounces on the opposite side at least once. A point is scored when a player fails to return the ball within the rules. Play is fast and demands quick reactions. Spinning the ball alters its trajectory and limits an opponent's options, giving the hitter a great advantage.

Table tennis is governed by the worldwide organization International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), founded in 1926. ITTF currently includes 226 member associations. The table tennis official rules are specified in the ITTF handbook. Table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988, with several event categories. From 1988 until 2004, these were men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles and women's doubles. Since 2008, a team event has been played instead of the doubles.

Tennis court

A tennis court is the venue where the sport of tennis is played. It is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the center. The same surface can be used to play both doubles and singles matches. A variety of surfaces can be used to create a tennis court, each with its own characteristics which affect the playing style of the game.

The Championships, Wimbledon

The Championships, Wimbledon, commonly known simply as Wimbledon, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and is widely regarded as the most prestigious. It has been held at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, since 1877 and is played on outdoor grass courts.

Wimbledon is one of the four Grand Slam tennis tournaments, the others being the Australian Open, the French Open and the US Open. Since the Australian Open shifted to hardcourt in 1988, Wimbledon is the only major still played on grass.

The tournament traditionally took place over two weeks in late June and early July, starting on the last Monday in June and culminating with the Ladies' and Gentlemen's Singles Finals, scheduled for the Saturday and Sunday at the end of the second week. However recent changes to the tennis calendar have seen the event moved back by a week to begin in early July. Five major events are held each year, with additional junior and invitational competitions also taking place.

Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors and Royal patronage. Strawberries and cream is traditionally consumed at the tournament. In 2017, fans consumed 34,000 kg of English strawberries and 10,000 litres of cream. The tournament is also notable for the absence of sponsor advertising around the courts. In 2009, Wimbledon's Centre Court was fitted with a retractable roof to lessen the loss of playing time due to rain.

US Open (tennis)

The United States Open Tennis Championships is a hard court tennis tournament. The tournament is the modern version of one of the oldest tennis championships in the world, the U.S. National Championship, for which men's singles was first played in 1881.

Since 1987, the US Open has been chronologically the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year. The other three, in chronological order, are the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon. The US Open starts on the last Monday of August and continues for two weeks, with the middle weekend coinciding with the U.S. Labor Day holiday.

The tournament consists of five primary championships: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles. The tournament also includes events for senior, junior, and wheelchair players. Since 1978, the tournament has been played on acrylic hard courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, Queens, New York City. The US Open is owned and organized by the United States Tennis Association (USTA), a non-profit organization, and the chairperson of the US Open is Katrina Adams. Revenue from ticket sales, sponsorships, and television contracts are used to develop tennis in the United States.

The US Open is the only Grand Slam tournament that employs tiebreakers in every set of a singles match. For the other three Grand Slam events, there are special scoring methods for a match that reaches 6–6 in the last possible set (the third for women and the fifth for men): in the French Open, the decisive set continues until a player takes a two-game lead, in Australia, an extended tiebreaker to 10 points is played, and at Wimbledon, a tiebreaker is played only if the game score reaches 12-12. As with the US Open, those events use tiebreakers to decide the other sets.

The US Open also is the only Grand Slam tournament with 16 qualifiers (instead of 12) in the women's singles draw.

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